Thursday, August 7, 2008

A Bientôt, Brussels

In 1997, when I was 20, I went to Brussels to be an au pair for the summer to a nice Belgian family. It was considered a BYU internship and I got French language credits for it. I spent the summer traveling, playing games, site-seeing, eating crêpes, running after trains, sitting there silent for 2 weeks not knowing a word that was said (after 5 years of French classes!), then breaking out of my shell and saying whatever French sentences I could muster up, eating garden fresh lettuce and tomatoes from the grandparents' garden...oh, and learning about taking care of children! There were 3 children: Claire (then 13 yo), Pierre (11), and Alice (5). All cute, all nice and polite, too.

I spent most of my time with Alice, playing with her, going places together, speaking French (and English). It's true, there's nothing cuter than a little girl speaking French (several people told me that.) She taught me more than I taught her, that's for sure. She became my little buddy. Sometimes, we'd be eating at the dinner table, and someone would say something, and I'd turn to 5 year-old Alice for clarification if I didn't understand. She was wonderful. Her whole family was kind, funny, and took care of me. They even took me to Spain (Ibiza island) for a couple of weeks on their vacation at the grandparents' summer villa. Wow. What an experience. There were times of frustration, feeling "cooped up"--most college students used to being independent and on the go (I think) would have a hard time having to stay home most days with little kids. But all in all, it was great. The de Liedekerkes and I have kept in touch, and it has been cool seeing the kids grow.
This is a photo from Claire's wedding last summer. Alice is now 16 or so (far left; Claire is the bride, then her husband, and Pierre). I wish I had photos of when I was with them, but they're all at Dad's house in Hawaii. So, did the experience help me learn how to raise children? Yes, it did. It was only for a couple of months, and so much happened in the years to follow before I would have my own kids, but I draw from my experiences from that summer quite often.


  1. that sounds like a great memory Nancey! so fun! and yeah for blogging!

  2. Very cool! I'm glad you've kept in touch. Maybe someday you can go back to visit and take your own kids. I love your blog; thanks for sending the link! I think we're heading to Alpine next weekend (finally), so I'll give you a call when we get there and we can hang out. See you soon and love you!

  3. wow, what a special experience in France you had. One to remember forever, and to pass down to your children. Thank you for sharing it!

  4. What?! You speak French? How did this not come up in our pow-wow on Tuesday?! Let's parle together!


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